I don’t often write about my other job as an editor, but now is a good time to do exactly that.
I just finished working with Joan Livingston on her new novel, Killing the Story, out on August 26th (the day after my birthday) and available for pre-order now. This is the fourth novel of hers that I’ve edited, and I love them all.
I also enjoy being appreciated – don’t we all? – and this post shows that to be the case. However, the editor in me wants to change the tense of a verb in this sentence:
She’s originally from the UK, but has lived in Israel for many years and does a lot of traveling.
I did a lot of travelling. I hope to do a lot of travelling. But just now… nope. But that single l in ‘traveling’ – I know that’s fine in the US.
The first time I was asked to edit a novel in American English, I worried that I wouldn’t know all the correct idioms or get the dialogue right. “Don’t worry,” I was told. “The author comes from the UK but lives in the US and she knows all that.” That was almost entirely true, but I did query one word (I can’t remember which) that I thought might not be understood by Americans. The author was surprised to discover I was right. I think living in Israel has opened me up to more Americans than the average British person would come into contact with.
That doesn’t mean I know all the idioms, but I trust Joan, who has lived there all her life. And, yes, I keep her writer’s voice. I think that’s important.
Editing a book is a long process, but it’s also enjoyable, especially if the book is interesting and the author is easy to get along with. Fortunately, I haven’t worked with any stroppy authors, but I’ve heard stories! And I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve worked on.
I’m currently editing a memoir by a non-native speaker of English. She writes English very well, but the mistakes she makes wouldn’t be made by a native speaker. Sometimes, they’re not even mistakes, and I find myself saying, “It’s not wrong, but it doesn’t sound quite right.” Yes, we actually talk, via Zoom. It’s quite fun.
There are different types of authors. Some accept all my suggestions, while with others there’s more discussion. With the first type, there’s less of the back and forth, and that saves time. But discussion probably leads to a more polished result and that, after all, is the point of the exercise.
Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.